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Five Ways To Make Your Packaging More Sustainable

Enhance your brand's sustainability with sustainable packaging: recycling, flexible packaging providers, QR Codes, and transport impact reduction.


In today’s e-commerce ecosystem, sustainability transcends mere catchphrases— it becomes a strategic necessity. Today's discerning consumers often gauge a company's environmental stewardship before committing to a purchase. So, the question arises: how can e-commerce businesses balance functionality with sustainability in their packaging? Below we’ll delve into five sustainability strategies to address this challenge:

  1. Provide Clear End-of-Life Recycling Instructions

    Whether or not something is recyclable depends greatly on the materials (often a combination) that it's made from; even the most well-informed consumer can be confused as to the most effective option when responsibly disposing of packaging.

    An informed consumer is an empowered consumer. By providing clear end-of-life recycling instructions on your packaging, you not only educate your customers but also promote responsible disposal— limiting contamination in recycling streams, which otherwise renders entire collections non-recyclable.

    Simple instructions on how to disassemble, clean, and then recycle the packaging material or where to drop it off for specialized recycling can drastically reduce the number of packages that end up in landfills. These instructions can be printed directly on the packaging alongside brand artwork and other descriptions.

  2. Opt for Flexible Production with Packaging Providers like Arka

    Branding evolves, and so does design. It is not uncommon that in an attempt to drive down unit costs, brands overproduce packaging based on a current design… only to have it become outdated in a short while is wasteful. Instead, collaborating with packaging providers, such as Arka, that specialize in quick, digitally-printed runs allows you to produce just enough packaging while still enjoying competitive unit prices.

    Digital printing also allows you to use multiple artwork files on the same run, so if your packaging is seasonal— and you have designs finalized in advance— you can produce multiple versions of the same packaging in one go.

    Approaching packaging production with a ‘just enough’ mindset ensures that you only produce what you need, minimizing waste and providing the flexibility to adjust branding or design without a surplus of outdated packaging materials.

  3. Incorporate QR Codes into Your Packaging Artwork

    Traditionally, many products come with physical marketing inserts like postcards, user manuals, and other promotional materials. While these inserts can be informative for a customer's first use of a product, they often end up being discarded, contributing to waste.

    Incorporating QR codes directly into your packaging artwork can replace the need for these physical marketing inserts. Customers can scan the QR code with their smartphones and instantly access all the necessary information for your product, company, and other relevant information online— be it a user manual, promotional content, or otherwise.

    Not only does this reduce the amount of paper used, but it also offers a more dynamic and interactive experience for the customer. Plus, it means less weight in your packaging, which can further reduce shipping costs and the product’s carbon footprint.

  4. Reduce Transport-Related Environmental Impact

    The environmental cost of transporting goods is not insignificant. By sourcing packaging materials that are produced close to your fulfillment centers, you can significantly reduce excessive transport-related emissions upfront.

    Finding packaging manufacturers near your distribution points— or those with multiple production hubs, as Arka does— means shorter transportation routes, reduced carbon emissions, and a smaller environmental footprint. It’s a simple yet effective way to make your operations more sustainable and is something you can share back with your consumers to underscore your commitment to sustainability (especially in the less consumer-facing parts of your supply chain).

  5. Embrace Biomaterials and PCR Materials for Packaging

    Biomaterials, derived from renewable sources, and Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) materials, made from recycled waste, are revolutionizing the packaging industry. By choosing sustainable materials for your packaging, you reduce the demand for virgin raw materials and minimize waste and environmental degradation.

    As consumer demand for more responsible packaging has peaked, so has the accessibility (and even the affordability) of more sustainable materials. Brands should have a packaging strategy that opts for biomaterials or PCR at every level of packaging— from PCR primary packaging, like bottles or bags, through to FSC-Certified tertiary packaging, like boxes and inserts.

Summary

Sustainability in packaging is no longer optional for e-commerce businesses aiming for long-term success. By integrating QR codes with providers like Digiphy, opting for flexible production, providing clear recycling instructions, reducing transport-related impact, and embracing sustainable materials with partners like Arka, brands can ensure their packaging is functional and environmentally conscious.

In an era where consumers value eco-friendliness, taking these steps not only bolsters your brand's reputation but also ensures a brighter, greener future for our planet.

 

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